In response to the general turbulence of 2019, IMEX Group is focusing on the bright side of life in 2020.
In a press release issued December 13th, Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, which produces and owns IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America, pointed out that 2019 had been a tumultuous year for the world in general and for many the shows’ exhibitors. She says that throughout it, the company had observed trends that, even though they eventually led to innovation, were essentially disruptive and extremely challenging.
“This shift towards the positive has been inspired by the creativity and resilience of individuals and companies in our industry and, in the wider world—projects such as David Byrne’s ‘Reasons to be Cheerful‘, for example. So we’ve chosen to highlight trends which we believe are going to change the world, our industry and the way we work for the better in 2020,” she explained. “Sustainability, health and wellness, diversity, inclusivity, collaboration, AI, VR, legacy, bleisure and mindfulness are all prominent at virtually every industry and in every trade publication. Campaigns to reduce food waste and single-use plastics are widespread and well-established. That’s great to see.”
But the question IMEX Group wanted to answer was, “What’s next?”
Here are the four positive trends that the IMEX team expect—and want—to see more of this year and beyond.
The Circular Economy
As an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose), in a circular economy we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. ~ WRAP
IMEX Group cited WRAP Global, which works with governments, businesses and NGOs to improve resource efficiency, as an example of an organization that has clearly captured the essence of the circular economy.
Sustainability consciousness, IMEX pointed out, has contributed enormously to changing attitudes and behaviours for the better—stopping practices like single-use plastics that harm the planet and its inhabitants, to reducing waste and encouraging recycling.
The next positive step, it said, is to create business models based on the circular economy, in which the principles of zero waste, maximizing product life and the reuse and recycling of materials are intrinsic to their design.
“Your next pair of sneakers could be made from coffee” from the World Economic Forum (WEF) is a story of the circular economy in practice. Another WEF article—How the circular economy could change the world by 2030—explains how far it can go.
Taking up the challenge of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Producing sustainable events is the only way to ensure that your business will continue to exist. It’s not an addition—it’s the only option. ~ Miguel Naranjo, program officer for the UN Framework Convention Goals, speaking at press conference held during IMEX America 2019 to announce the Event Industry Council’s Centre for Sustainable Events.
The Centre was created to align the MICE industry with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This major initiative by the EIC is supported by many leading industry organizations. It follows the launch of the EIC’s Sustainable Event Standards, and together they have provided a new focus and raised the profile and urgency of this topic even further.
The annual IMEX-EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award has also generated great interest and is proving effective in encouraging the industry to create and celebrate new initiatives.
Health & Wellbeing: More focus on mental health
IMEX Group pointed out that the unprecedented amount of media coverage and activity around World Mental Health Day (October 10), in the events industry and world at large, is testimony to a paradigm shift about mental health.
According to the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease, about 13 percent of the global population (some 971 million people) suffer from some kind of mental disorder. Arianna Huffington of Thrive Global, reports that 300 million people suffer from depression, making it “the world’s leading cause of disability.” Millions more suffer from anxiety, stress or dementia.
IMEX noted that the two biggest changes are 1) the “It’s OK not to be OK” campaigns removing the historic stigma attached to admitting one has a mental illness and talking openly about it, and 2) the increase in initiatives to provide greater help and reduce root causes. There are now many apps to help with everything from wellness to sleep quality and many employers have trained mental health first aiders who identify and help staff. In addition, more employers are taking steps to minimize the causes of stress and anxiety at work by, for instance, providing flexible working hours and places where staff can find peace and quiet away from their desks.
How AI can make travelling a more pleasant and less stressful experience
According to research from the University of Montreal commutes of 20 minutes or more can lead to chronic stress and burnout. So, IMEX reports, it’s great to find that real-time emotion detection and artificial intelligence (AI) are being used to combat stress and bring a sense of wellbeing and calm to travel environments.
- The Emotional Art Gallery created by advertising space provider Clear Channel Sweden and used across the Stockholm metro system for two weeks to help travellers. The Gallery was created by synthesizing real-time, publicly available data from Google searches, social media, news articles and traffic information to determine the mood of the city, which was then used to select and display artwork meant to combat commuter stress and anxiety across 250 of Clear Channel’s connected screens. Six artists contributed to the exhibition, with bespoke pieces created to induce feelings of energy, love, peacefulness, calm, happiness, comfort and safety.
- Nely, a social robot from Turkey-based Human Age Technology, will be used at Istanbul’s new airport. Nely will be able to provide information to travellers about traffic, gates and weather forecasts all while reading users’ emotions and reacting accordingly. The hope is that having the robot respond to emotions, interactions will be more useful and enjoyable for people and will decrease travel stress.
- South Korean automotive company Kia unveiled its Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) system at the 2019 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Designed to reduce stress levels, the system monitors the driver’s emotions using bio-signal recognition technology. The AI-based technology analyses facial expressions, heart rate and electrodermal activity to determine emotional state and then adjusts the interior of the car (lighting, music) to improve the driver’s state of mind.
“We’re looking forward to these trends making 2020 a year of positive changes,” concludes Carina Bauer.